Create educational comics with PIXTON

PIXTON is a website that allows you and your students to create Click-n-Drag Comics and storyboards for almost every topic you can imagine. The comic characters that you can generate have an unlimited range of expressions and you can move them into any pose. The website also comes with more than 3000 backgrounds for your stories. You can add speech bubbles, subtitles and descriptions to your comics. It is even possible to collaborate on a comic with different people from around the world. PIXTON is a great tool to help you make your lessons more visual and more engaging. I personally would use PIXTON for social studies or history lessons, because I think that students can relate to historic stories better, if they can visualize them in a comic. Another great thing about the PIXTON website is that it offers free full length lesson plans by real teachers that can give you an idea of how to use comics in different subjects.

PIXTON was created by a wife-and-husband team (Clive and Daina Goodinson) that wanted to offer a platform where people can create and share stories. The website is trusted by several schools and universities, including such renown institutions as Stanford University and Harvard University.

The only catch of PIXTON is that it is not free of charge! It comes with a monthly fee of $10.99 CAD for one teacher. For me as a student this price is currently to high, but I will look into PIXTON again in the future. If you are just curious about how PIXTON works, there is a free trial for 15 days and it is worth to check out the website!


Engage your students with activities from “The STEM Laboratory”

The STEM laboratory is a website that offers a great array of different STEM activities for your students from Preschool to 2nd grade. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The goal of STEM activities is to teach these subjects in a fun way for kids. On the website, you can find activities such as “Popsicle catapults”, “jellybean-toothpick-structures”, “pumpkin volcanoes” and “smartphone projectors”. Basically, all the activities that are introduced on the website sound like a lot of fun and I am eager to recreate them. I can definitely see myself using several of the experiments in the classroom, because it is an engaging and fun way to teach stereotypical “dry” topics such as math or engineering.

The website is run by several teachers and homeschooling moms, who contribute to the website with their own experiences that they gathered in the classroom or at home. Many of the authors also participate on another website called Playdough to Plato, where you can also find STEM activities, as well as activities for other subjects such as writing or reading.

So, while I start buying and gathering all the materials that I need to run my next STEM experiments, you should take a look at this website.

The STEM laboratory

What is a Performance Task?

Did you ever wonder what a Performance Task actually is? Worry no more, because the seven-part blog series “Defined Learning: Performance Task PD with Jay McTighe” answers this question. The blog doesn’t only tell you how Performance Tasks look like, it also tells you why we should use them, how we can design them and how we should evaluate them. Reading the different blog entries has helped me to understand Performance Tasks better and I already used several things that I learned from this blog in creating Rich Performance Assessment Tasks for my classes in university.

Jay McTighe, the author of this blog, is also one of the authors of the books “The Understanding by Design Guide to Creating High-Quality Units” and “The Understanding by Design Guide to Refining Units and Reviewing Results”. He also wrote many other academic books and has a long career in education, in which he helped to develop and share formative performance assessments.

Unfortunately, this blog only has seven entries and that’s it. There will be no new content anymore, which means in the case that some assessment paradigms change in the future the blog won’t respond to that. But until then you should read all the entries and enhance your knowledge about Performance Tasks!

Performance Tasks

Understand Differentiated Instruction

Here is a great article from the website teachthought about differentiated instruction (DI). The article doesn’t only explain what DI is, but also offers great visual cues to understand the concept better. Thanks to its simplicity this article really helped me to fully grasp the concept and I think that is what makes it so valuable. But the simplicity is also the downside of the article, because it just provides overall ideas about DI, but no detailed ways of how to actually implement DI in your classroom.

The website teachthought, on which this article was posted offers many other great articles about innovative teaching in the 21st century. teachthought was founded by a former classroom teacher that wanted to rethink traditional approaches to teaching and learning.

Differentiated Instruction

Five Keys to Project-Based Learning

This is a video I stumbled upon on YouTube that explains the five keys to Rigorous Project-Based Learning. Project-Based Learning is a concept to teaching in which students have to face real-world problems and challenges, which makes them more engaged and helps them to understand content on a deeper level. It also helps them to develop 21st century skills and experience ownership. I think Project-based learning is a great concept and every school should implement it in their teaching. If you are ready to find out about the five keys to project-based Learning go and watch the video below.

The video was uploaded by Edutopia. Edutopia is the educational foundation of George Lucas. If you are interested in their work you can find more information on their official website. There are tons of resources to be found for teachers and educators. Just check it out yourself.

Canada C3 Lesson and Unit Plan

Here is a lesson plan for a grade 6 class that I created about historical figures that shaped Canada’s identity. It is part of a unit plan that I developed together with three classmates for Canada’s C3 initiative. Canada C3 celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary and features an Education Program that covers four key themes: Reconciliation, the Environment, Youth Engagement, and Diversity & Inclusion. Our unit plan was created under the Diversity & Inclusion theme.

» Lesson Plan: Important historical figures
» Unit Plan: Diversity in Canada

Backward Design

This is a sketchnote that I made of the Backward Design model. In Backward Design you don´t start with thinking about instructional activities and short-term learning outcomes when you plan a unit. Instead, you start with thinking about the long-term learning outcomes and assessment methods that you can use, and then you plan instructional activities around that.

Backward Design